Firstly, thanks for the awesome feedback to my Derek Barnett film room piece. My next piece will be on Josh Sweat as there was a few requests for this!
I have also recently launched a new Eagles podcast, called Eagles Brawl, where I will be breaking down my film pieces in more detail. Episode 1 includes me breaking down Derek Barnett and JJ Arcega-Whiteside’s film. You can find the pod at all the usual places.
In Episode 2, my co-host Conor Myles was able to interview former Eagle offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde who provided some fascinating insight on a wide range of topics. Julian Vandervelde was with the Eagles for 5 years in total and was involved in 17 (!) total roster transactions with the Eagles. If you have Eagles notifications turned on for any roster moves you would have heard his name before!
Vandervelde was a backup that worked alongside prominent Philly figures such as Nick Foles, Doug Pederson, Chip Kelly, Jason Kelce. Vandervelde has a load of brilliant stories and inside information that I had no idea about so I thought I would break down some of the best quotes from the podcast below. Just because he wasn’t a household player doesn’t mean his perspective should be slept on.
Vandervelde on Doug Pederson and Chip Kelly
The beginning of the episode revolves around two head coaches that Vandervelde played under, Doug Pederson and Chip Kelly. Vandervelde provided some incredible insight into the differences between the two coaches.
“He (Pederson) understands the guys on the field, experiencing the game... are the ones who have the clearest perspective on what is working & what is not working... The difference between Chip and Doug is trust”
Vandervelde used the Philly Special as the obvious example of this. He went onto to speak about how Chip Kelly would have every player’s urine tested every single day to check their hydration levels. He never felt Kelly trusted his players.
“Chip was the micro managers of micro managers down to having every single player on the roster taking urine hydration tests every single morning”
I knew about the urine tests but every single day?! No wonder some players were sick of Chip. Despite this, I thought Vandervelde was actually pretty sympathetic towards Chip. This part in particular stood out to me.
“He was so obsessed with the idea of getting the absolute best out of every single player”
People often discuss now how Chip’s ‘ego’ was his downfall but Vandervelde played down that quite a bit. If anything, he discussed how Chip just wanted to check every detail so closely because he wanted everyone to perform the best they possibly could.
However, Vandervelde has some brilliant insight into why Chip failed in the NFL. He blamed Chip for not understanding the difference between NFL players and college athletes.
“The first time I really knew that he was going to work out... was the second or third workout that we had... it was a college workout... Halfway through it Jason Kelce just had a f****** meltdown... He just stops, starts yelling at the strength staff about how we aren’t college players and this is kiddie b*******”
It is pretty incredible that he realized that quickly that Chip wasn’t going to work. He went onto talk about how the players felt like Chip’s staff were treating them like kids. What is also interesting is that Jason Kelce actually thrived in Chip’s system after a bit!
However, he also blamed the NFL a little bit for not adjusting to his game, as you can see below.
“In the college world, he could yell at the refs and they would move faster... he couldn’t exercise the same amount of control over the tempo of the game in the NFL as he could in the college world”
I think it’s a bit extreme to say that Chip would have succeeded if the refs moved quicker... but who knows? Maybe it would have made a slight difference at least.
Conor asked Vandervelde a number of different other topics and got some interesting answers. I won’t discuss them all but there is a load of good stuff on how hard Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson work and also why he loves Nick Foles and Andy Reid so much. He even discusses DeMarco Murray and Malcolm Jenkins as well as the Howie and Chip power struggle and how all the players knew this was going on in the background.
Everyone knows that Kelce is one of the most athletic lineman in the league, but I didn’t realize just how much he studies the game too. I realized after this interview why Kelce has become one of the most offensive lineman in the game.
“He is one of the most intense individuals on and of the field... you go into the workout and he’s screaming while he’s moving crazy amount of weight. He stays amped all the time. But at the same time, his football brain is incredible... He knew Chip’s offense better, I think, than Chip did... He had such a firm understanding of Chip Kelly’s system that he could have run that offense entirely by himself without any input’.
Vandervelde also played next to Jason Peters and was asked about whether or not the Eagles should bring him back.
“If he can’t walk, I’d still keep him on the team just to teach people and give people advice....I wasn’t even in his position and I learnt more about the NFL from him than anybody else or any experience ever taught me. Bring him back as long as he wants to.”
Vandervelde could not stop praising Peters as a mentor and a ‘coach’ type of figure. I already wanted to bring back Peters, but I am even more on board now. Even if he doesn’t start it sounds like he could really help Andre Dillard to learn the position better.
Lastly, just for fun, I enjoyed this quote even though it has nothing to do with the Eagles.
“I spent two months in Tampa with Greg Schiano who was by far the worst coach I have ever worked under.”
That will do it for now. There is a load more good stuff on the podcast so check it out and subscribe if you want to hear me go into more detail on my film pieces as well as other topics too. Film piece on Josh Sweat soon!